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The Intellectual Trio
Year: 1985 "No, you can't borrow my clothes."
Joyce Ngai and Sandy Lam
Director: Guy Lai Ying-Chau
Writer: Wong Kar-Wai, Barry Wong Ping-Yiu
Action: Sherman Wong Qui-Man
Cast: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing, Joyce Ngai Suk-Kwan, Billy Lau Nam-Kwong, Sandy Lam Yik-Lin, Joh Chung-Sing, Stanley Fung Shui-Fan, Charlie Cho Cha-Lei, Sherman Wong Qui-Man, Geung Chung-Ping, Poon Man Sek, Law Ho-Kai, Alice Lau Ar-Lai, Chun Wong, Kong Do, Ng Woon-Yee, Kenneth Siao Wai-Keung
The Skinny: Occasionally entertaining eighties flick which puts forth an abundance of wacky hijinks, bizarre plot developments, and sudden pathos. Only for the most tolerant moviegoers, who probably number less than you think.
by Kozo:
     A few notable factors make this a possible pick-up for HK Cinema fans everywhere. First, it features a young Leslie Cheung. Second, it's one of the few screen appearances of singer Sandy Lam. And third, the script was co-written by that master of existential cinema, Wong Kar-Wai. Sadly, these factors don't really mean that much. The Intellectual Trio, while occasionally entertaining in an eighties HK sort of way, pretty much goes nowhere fast.
     Joyce Ngai and Sandy Lam play a pair of pickpockets who prey on unsuspecting owners of wallets and handbags everywhere. They happen into wacky circumstances when they pick the wallets of HK cop Leslie Cheung and Taiwanese cop Billy Lau. The girls are never really busted for their crimes, but eventually the foursome meet up for wacky good times including an impromptu beer-drinking contest (where Leslie Cheung and Joyce Ngai compete to see who can drink the most before peeing) and a double date with mini-mountain bikes. It's all rather cute and sweet—and questionably tasteful. After all, we have to see Billy Lau's naked behind, and we're also supposed to believe that Joyce Ngai might find him remotely attractive. If you've ever seen Billy Lau, you should know this to be a metaphysical impossibility.
     However, there's also another plotline. What brings the pickpocket girls back into the lives of our lovable cop duo is a bearded hitman played by Joh Chung-Sing. The girls steal a valuable jade from him, which leads them to the police station and back into the lives of the cops they picked earlier in the film. Never mind that they're frequent criminals—they're just so cute and/or sexy that the cops would rather date them then dispense some justice. But, with a bearded hitman after them things can only go bad, which they do in typically overwrought Hong Kong style. Whether it all makes sense is another story entirely.
     Basically, this eighties exercise in Hong Kong excess goes to extreme lengths to pull our chains, and the results are questionable. This mixture of sappy silliness and vicious hitman drama is a hard concoction to swallow. About seventy rules of writing are broken in Wong Kar-Wai and Barry Wong's script, which continually violates that pesky little thing known as logic. One might derive some charm from the young and charismatic Leslie Cheung, the fetching Joyce Ngai, or the adorable Sandy Lam, but with the twin terrors of a nonsensical script and Billy Lau Nam-Kwong, there can only be hell to pay. The Intellectual Trio can occasionally amuse, but in no possible way can it ever be considered a good film. And why is it called The Intellectual Trio? Sure, eventually the foursome does get whittled down to a trio, but what here is supposed to be intellectual? (Kozo 2003)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Laser
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
image courtesy of Universe Laser & Video Co., Ltd.
   Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen